Saturday 11 January 2014

In Kogbe’s lens, Occupy Nigeria reverberates

By Tajudeen Sowole
Two years after enraged Nigerians gathered at different parts of the country to press for reversal of federal government’s hike in pump price of Premium Spirit otherwise known as petrol, the memory lingers on as photographer, Temitope Kogbe highlights some of the actions captured at the Ojota, Lagos section of the protests.

One of Temitope Kogbe’s captures during the Occupy Nigeria protests in Lagos.

 Kogbe’s body of work titled A Yearning, which opened as a photography exhibition a week ago and ending on January 12, 2014 at Miliki, Victoria Island, Lagos, brings out a part of the protests that energized the people against what was widely described as government’s insensitivity. Kogbe’s images enphasise a gesture parts of the protests, he notes as fascinating and crucial in uprising mobilization anywhere in the world
 About this period last year, photo journalist, shown similar images in a solo outing titled, at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos. 

He thought the exhibition was important to remind people of about the protests, which have since found a place in the lexicon of human rights and uprising as Occupy Nigeria.
Was A Yearning also planned as another remembrance of Occupy Nigeria? Kogbe, during a chat a preview, a day before the opening said the exhibition has nothing to do with an ‘anniversary’, but only share something in common with the spirit of Occupy Nigeria, which is “right of a people to challenge unfavourable policy of government.” Kogbe insists that “it’s just a coincidence,” but adds that “similarly though, the death of Nelson Mandela also inspired the exhibition.”

However, the photo artist’s emphasis is on the protesters’ throwing up of clenched fist in unison, each time there was a response to a speaker’s words of encouragement. to support his argument that the gesture of raising an arm or both to suggest call for uprising cuts across cultures, a capture of Ghanaian nationalist, Nkrumah’s statue was also included in the 31 images on exhibition.
  One of the aspects of the Occupy Nigeria protests, which would remain contentious in Nigeria’s civil liberty circle for a long time is the role of Save Nigeria Group {SNG) in organizing the unprecedented mammoth crowd at Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Garden, Ojota. irrespective of each side of the divides any one stands, Kogbe argues that “the different civil organisations did not make much difference; the Nigerian people just felt enough was enough.”

Quite interesting, Kogbe’s reflection on Occupy Nigeria is ongoing at the time unconfirmed news gripped Nigerians about another plans of the Goodluck Jonathan-led government planned another fuel hike in January. The government has, however dismissed the news as mere rumour.  And the Occupy Nigeria protests could have gone further, but for what Kogbe described as “complacency, which is the bane of Nigerians, and it kills passion.”

One of Kogbe’s works from the fuel subsidy protests is among the illustrations for the popular online medium, Wikipedia. “Yes, after I posted the images online, I got email requesting for one of the works for Wikipedia,” he recalled.

For the photographs, he has protest title such as A Compelling Desire, Spirit Of The Times, What Do You Do With A Desire,,, People Power Possibilities, and One Force.

Still on the natural zeal of Nigerians to excel, despite the irresponsive of government, Kogbe brings into the exhibition past achievements of Nigerian musicians, by displaying album sleeves from the 1960s to the 80s. he argues that the achievements of Nigerian musicians of the past, beyond the shores of the country, particularly in Africa “unfortunately is not being repeated by the new generation artistes.” Although  similar argument has been made by some sections of the country’s art culture professionals, but the reality, currently, is that today’s generation of Nigerians are also dominating the African music scene in their own styles, perhaps different from the pattern Fela Anikulapo Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Sunny Okosuns and others did in the past.

Kogbe’s exhibition, A Yearning, according to a press release is sponsored by  Livingstone Studio, a media production company and Nrazor, a purveyor of lighting solutions.

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